Government sells NatWest shares reducing stake to 38.6%

23rd May 2023

NatWest has bought 469 million shares back from the Government for £1.26 billion, bringing the UK’s stake in the bank down from 41.4% to 38.6%. 

The sale reduces the government’s shareholding to c. 38.6% – down from around 84% at its peak – delivering significant progress against the government’s intention as announced at Spring Budget to fully exit the shareholding by 2025-2026, subject to market conditions and achieving value for money for taxpayers.

The Government intervened in NatWest (formerly the Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS) with the objective of protecting financial and economic stability during the 2008 global financial crisis.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has been clear that – without the government’s interventions in the financial sector – the cost of the 2008 global financial crisis would almost certainly have been far greater.

The government will only dispose of its NatWest shareholding when it represents value for money to do so and market conditions allow.

Alongside progress being made by the ongoing trading plan, HMT and UK Government Investments continue to keep all options under active consideration for future sales, including via accelerated bookbuilds if conditions permit.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffith said “Today’s sale is another major milestone in returning NatWest to full private ownership as promised. The government has now sold well over half of its shareholding.”

Dame Alison Rose, NatWest’s Chief Executive, said “This transaction reduces government ownership below 40% and demonstrates positive progress on the bank’s strategic priorities and the path to privatisation. NatWest Group’s robust balance sheet and capital generation allow us to continue lending responsibly and supporting the customers and communities we serve whilst delivering sustainable returns to our shareholders, including the Government.”